Article by Dominic Minicozzi <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The first question that came to mind the day I met Patrick Downes and Matthew Field was: “how did two basketball players from North Carolina find out about a small liberal arts college in southeastern Pennsylvania?” and furthermore: “what influenced these two teammates to attend the same institution?” Interestingly enough, the answers to these questions are a lot deeper and more complicated than you may think. Therefore in order to tell this story correctly we have to go all the way back to fall of 2018 when Downes and Field first met.
It was their freshman year at Cardinal Gibbons High School and both players were getting settled into playing basketball at the next level. For instance Downes, despite his acumen as a three point shooter at the college level, played a majority of his minutes in the post as a “four,” or power forward as it’s commonly referred to in basketball, due to the fact that he was relatively tall for a freshman in high school. Meanwhile Field was a lot more accustomed to this role with his 6’7” stature. However, playing JV gave these freshmen an opportunity to build chemistry and develop despite the revolving door that was their coaching staff throughout their time at Cardinal Gibbons High School. For some perspective, Downes informed me that they “had four different coaches for four years… at Gibbons,” meaning that the only constant these two players had on the court in their high school careers was each other, and this showed up on the stat sheet.
“I know that our senior year Matt (Matthew Field) probably assisted on 75% of my points,” said Downes, but this chemistry between the two was developed over the course of multiple seasons. “That sophomore year on JV… we played off of each other pretty well but… it really just grew so much,” Downes said. Field added that “as we got older… we kind of figured out our roles… when we were younger we didn’t really play to our strengths as much… so senior year I was playing… what I’m comfortable with and that allowed me to be a good player.”
Thus, if we can make one observation about Downes and Field leading up to their collegiate career’s at Ursinus, it’s that their chemistry was a significant factor in their performances on the court. Surprisingly though, they weren’t always on the same team when they shared the court.
During their senior season at Cardinal Gibbons High School, Downes decided to pursue a postgraduate or fifth year in order to find the college that best fit his academic and athletic needs. Between the two, he was the first to make this decision after visiting The Hill School in Pottstown, Pennsylvania and Perkiomen Valley High School in Collegeville, Pennsylvania. Eventually, he decided that PV was the destination for him and committed to an extra year of high school basketball in an unfamiliar state more than 400 miles from his hometown. However, after their season ended, Field was still deciding what his journey would look like after high school.
“It was our senior year and everyone wore a T-Shirt of where they were going, and Matt didn’t have a T-Shirt” said Downes who later referred him to Perkiomen Valley High School. However, during the recruiting process one of Perkiomen Valley’s future opponents, The Hill School reached out to Field and he gladly decided to commit to playing for them during his fifth year instead of PV.
During their respective postgraduate basketball seasons Field and Downes played against one another on two separate occasions. The first time these two competed on opposite teams was their very first summer game between Hill and PV leading up to the season. Downes and Perkiomen Valley came out on top in a convincing victory even though both teams were relatively successful during that season. The second time Field and Downes went head to head was surprisingly toward the end of that same season in the Semifinals of the PAISAA State Playoffs. The game which had a similar result to their previous matchup, a victory for Downes and his team.
Alongside playing basketball during this fifth year season, both of these players had to decide where they were going to play at the collegiate level. In an interesting turn of events, Field was the first to make his commitment to Ursinus and adds that his recruitment to the college was in large part because of the relationship between his head coach at The Hill School, and Ursinus’ head basketball coach Kevin Small. As for Downes, his journey to Ursinus took a little more time.
“Matt tells me he’s going on a visit to this school called Ursinus and I was like, oh, good for him, that’s awesome, whatever… didn’t think anything of it” said Downes about the first time he heard about Ursinus. He didn’t know that shortly after, Ursinus would be recruiting him as well. In the short time frame of roughly a month, he had multiple meetings and visits with the Ursinus basketball coaches. “I had probably one of the quickest turnarounds… in Ursinus recruiting history” said Downes when asked about his experience in the recruiting process. Meanwhile, Field was essentially already committed to Ursinus, but still invested in what his friend and former teammate Patrick Downes was going to decide. Eventually, the commitment saga comes to a close with a phone call between the two friends.
“I remember calling you a couple times and being like, Matt, I think I want to go there too. It sounds like a pretty sweet place” said Downes. To which Field replied, “I think him telling me that…honestly…made the decision easier”
Now that Downes and Field are officially in their freshman year at Ursinus College, we look forward to seeing how their years of basketball chemistry and unwavering friendship will translate on the court and in the classroom. When asked about their goals heading into their Ursinus college basketball careers they were once again in unison: win the conference and play in the NCAA Tournament. We will see if that dream can become a reality.